Finding Success in an Online-Only Business Model

July 27, 2016

No stranger to life in cyberspace, Dan Goldman spent a good part of his career overseeing online publishing for WNET (NYC’s PBS affiliate). Thus, it isn’t a huge shock that he’d go on to co-found a business that isn’t just successful online, but relies solely on e-commerce and communication.

In 2012, along with two other partners, Dan founded PANYL. Their product is a DIY furniture wrap that allows users to customize their furniture at an amazing price point. PANYL makes custom design elements possible for budgets that rely on ready-made products.

Spawned from the idea of finding an efficient and inexpensive way to create custom designs for commercial photo shoots, PANYL is now available in a variety of colors and textures to spruce up any space. Their templates already include measurements for a broad swath of IKEA furniture, but they are more than happy to handle custom designs for furniture from anywhere.

PANYL’s lack of a storefront doesn’t take any pressure off of management, although the day-to-day might be a little different than a traditional retail outlet. Dan graciously agreed to answer a few questions about what it takes to run a business like PANYL.

What does it mean to you to be a business owner?
It means there’s no bureaucracy. I can make decisions immediately. It also means that I can follow my passion while responding directly to customers whom I interact with every day. It means not having to report to somebody else. It means not having to compromise on my vision.

What is at stake in an online business?
Our reputation is at stake every day. When you don’t have a large organization supporting you, you really have to hustle to get back to customers immediately, make sure that their full range of experience with you, all of those touch points, get the right attention. My biggest concern is that customers out there are having a really good experience with our company at every turn.

What keeps you motivated?
We have an incredibly long list of projects: product extensions, new designs, and new ways of selling. Unless we are incredibly tight with all of our processes, we don’t have time to change and innovate in our business. I’m always looking for that opportunity to save time and do things more easily, because we’ll use that capacity to focus on something else, something new.

What makes shopping with PANYL different than other retailers?
PANYL is an add-on product, which is a major factor in why we exist only in e-commerce. There’s not a lot of point to us having a storefront presence, since often, our customers are shopping for PANYL online while in other stores looking at furniture. We manage all of our customer interactions online, and have to be sure that we are just as easily accessed on mobile devices for this very reason. If you look at our sales reports, at least 40-50% of purchases are taking place on a tablet or mobile phone.

How has Clover helped you grow?
Knowing that I have a global financial powerhouse behind my transaction engine, that my credit card data is secure, allows me to do what I love to do—promote and fulfill sales. We wouldn’t be able to grow as fast as we have if we didn’t have that kind of support. When we opened in mid-2012, our sales were doubling every month. It was like being strapped to a rocket! Even now, we grow roughly 30% each month. With support from Clover Online Store, transactions happen one day, and money is transferred into our bank account usually the next day.

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